Depression is a horrible disease, both for the individual sufferer and for every poor soul that comes into contact with them, so why do I use the word benefits when I am talking about depression. Well let me explain
First a bit about ny own history of depression. I’m no expert, I have no degrees, and I’m certainly no prophet, genius or visionary. I have been through three mental breakdowns, a total rejection of myself and humanity, a feeling/knowledge of total failure, a suicide attempt, and my first comprehension of what friendship meant, let alone any date or social interaction, was at the age of 26.
It was wonderful experience but after so many years of embattled social isolation; partly self-imposed; it hurt like hell and led to the second of my breakdowns. I have been through cognitive therapy, psychoanalysis, and pill pushing cures, and even after my first attempt at suicide I have been in a situation whereby I was phone receiver away from being sectioned. That occurred when I was unable to mentally or physically guarantee being able to attend an appointment with a psychologist 7 days from the near sectioning, but despite all that, and more going on, I consider myself, in many respects, to be lucky.
Why so, because in becoming my greatest enemy, depression has give me a clear if unusual comprehension of life around me, and, through such a process become my greatest friend.
Every coin has two sides though, even the dodgy two-headed varieties, so I freely admit that the following negative effects of the disease are or can be true. First of all from the sufferers point of view
- It can be debilitating
- It induces feelings of despair, hopelessness, futility, failure, inadequacy, helplessness and destructive self loathing
- It can causes manic highs and lows
- It can divorce you from reality
- It can create a chasm between you and the world around you, or our loved ones, that we cannot explain or that they cannot understand.
- It can be a killer and, in the depths of depression, no relief can seem possible, and no relief or possible cure is anywhere to hand
- I’m all alone, nobody understands me, I’m a failure.
Now the outsiders point of view
- It can destroy a relationship, and deny you love, affection, or friendship that you once used to enjoy
- It is frustrating, as nothing seems to get through to the sufferer
- At times, against all your better instincts, you have to be cruel to be kind
- You cannot fight the illness as, physically, there is nothing there
- It is debilitating as, if you are not careful, the depressive wittingly or unwittingly, robs you of all of your energy
- You want to understand them, and help them, but they cannot tell you what kind of a world they are living in, and you cannot find a key to its door
- the more you love them, and try to help them, the greater the frustration, as, they often ungratefully, or seemingly ungratefully, push such help to one side
- If suicide occurs you are left with all the negatives, and a potential sense of total failure through wishing that you could have done more.
All this is true, for like some voraciously feeding black hole it can strip strength, hope, and belief in life from everyone, and ultimately it can and does kill, yet perversely there are positives to be gleaned from such an illness, and it is to such values that I turn to now. let’s go through the above points again, first from the sufferers POV.
- We are alive. and potentially we have sensory, mental, and physical gifts that others cannot enjoy.; i.e we can probably walk, talk, see, smell, and you probably have the use (albeit a bit wonky at times) of a magnificent brain
- It certainly can induce all the aforementioned negatives, but it can also give us a unique view of the world around us
- Manic highs and lows can occur, but with such altered sates of perception and lucidity comes the chance of intense insight and the potential for great artistic prowess; scientific progress, and breakthroughs of many kinds
- Our perception of reality can be and often is buggered by depression, but then who is to say what constitutes reality, maybe we have answers that nobody else can feel or see.
- That chasm is there, and it can seem to be an unbrigeable barrier, but if we allow yourselves to step back from the edge for a moment, or try to step out of the chasm one step at a time, then a stong and powerful bridge can be formed.
- Our worst enemy can become our best friend. If we can see beyond the blackness, even at the deepest point in our illness, it can help us to get to know and accept ourselves, and make us into survivors, with a real chance of a decent life to come
- Oh yeh…dream…look at the following names, think at what they have achieved and been through..Edgar Alan Poe. Beethoven. William Blake. Kurt Cobain. Dostoyevsky. Van Gogh. Hemingway. Keats. Michelangelo. Nietzsche. Sylvia Plath……wikipedia list of notable manic depressives. If they can do it, them we as depressives can do it, so why don’t we stand tall, get talking and shame our demons. By doing so others might be spared the pain
Now from the outsider POV
- It can destroy, yet it can also create and build
- It is frustrating, but the rewards are truly wonderful if both parties can beak the mould
- Kindness through cruelty seems a contradiction, but there is strength through adversity, and if both parties are lucky, they come out wiser and stronger at the end
- Quite true, and shadow boxing is infuriating, especially as the damn thing keeps on coming back and biting you on the bum, but again look at the previous point, and think of how it feels if you can at least get the thing under control
- See points 3/ and 4/
- The harder you push for an understanding the further off such a world will become. My advice is to stop cognitively thinking, to step back, and to allow the subconscious to find a way in. It can work, I promise you, and you get to know yourself properly, as well as having a different view of the world
- All this is true, but the trick is to realise that you cannot combat an often subconscious illness through cognitive thought or thought processes. Mentally keep an open door so they can join you, or have a length of rope handy, so they have something to garb hold of, but don’t try and go inside their world to grab them. They will be unappreciative or all your efforts, you will not understand the world you find yourself living in, and, if you are really unlucky, you may well stay there forever or drown. plus, if you can do this, you will have a much greater appreciation of how things work in the mind
- There is no easy answer to this one, but if you put all the above points together, it may help ease the guilt and/or pain. I know it’s hard to accept but it isn’t their fault, it isn’t your fault, it’s just one of those bloody awful things
This post is drawing to a close now, but I hope that out of such frank honesty some relief, for all those on any side of the equation might be found. It is a filthy disease, and sadly, I believe there is no cure to be found, but, with an equal passion, I believe that there are positives to be gleaned from amongst the much and rubbish, and that is such things are embraced by all those associated with the illness, than there is a chance, a real chance, that all parties can come out stronger in the end
Thank you for listening folks, and the best of luck to all those who suffer from or who are associated with depression; let’s all hope, many years into the future that a real cure can be found.
I hope you enjoy the video below, maybe this is a message for us all.